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Alexander Scott Withers


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Historian Alexander Scott Withers (October 12, 1792-January 23, 1865) was born at Green Meadows, Fauquier County, Virginia. He attended Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and graduated from the law department of William and Mary College. Withers practiced law at Warrenton, Fauquier County, but was hindered by a timidity in public speaking. After his father’s death in 1813, he took over the management of his mother’s plantation. In August 1815, he married Melinda Fisher, and they had five children.

After moving to Harrison County in 1827 and accepting a teaching position, Withers began writing a history of early settlers of northwestern Virginia and frontier warfare in the Ohio Valley, drawing upon the writings of historian Hugh Paul Taylor and incorporating historical materials collected by a local judge and several venerable pioneers. He completed his manuscript while living in Lewis County, and Chronicles of Border Warfare was published in 1831 by Joseph Israel, a Clarksburg newspaper publisher. Israel’s business failed soon afterward, and Withers received no profit from the book, which has long been regarded as a classic of West Virginia historical writing.

After his book’s completion, Withers traveled to Missouri with a plan to settle and spend his remaining years, but was disappointed with the region and soon returned to Lewis County, where he engaged in farming and was appointed justice of the peace. Following the death of his wife, Withers resided with his eldest daughter, with whom he moved to Parkersburg in 1861. A supporter of the Unionist cause during the Civil War, he was selected as a delegate to the first Wheeling Convention of May 1861. Withers died at Parkersburg and was buried in Weston.

Written by Harold Malcolm Forbes

Sources

  1. McWhorter, Lucullus Virgil. The Border Settlers of Northwestern Virginia from 1768-1795. Hamilton, OH: Republican Pub. Co., 1915, Reprint, Comstock, 1974; Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1975.

  2. Withers, Alexander Scott. Chronicles of Border Warfare. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke, 1895, Reprint, McClain, 1994.

  3. Cook, Roy Bird. Alexander Scott Withers. 1921.